Mother’s Day is once again upon us. A perfect time to give your mom flowers or watch a funny movie together. But what happens when you don’t have a mom anymore? I mean, you had one… but now you don’t. My mom died in 2009. Cancer. I watched the whole thing. That’s a whole long story, for another time. So what I am I supposed to do on Mother’s Day?
I guess I could hang out with my dad… Maybe he would make me feel better? Except he also died. In 2004. So now what am I supposed to do with this celebratory day for my parent who isn’t here anymore? This is second year I’ve had to ask myself this question.
Last year I joined a meetup group called “Motherless Daughters“. A woman named Susan started this group 7 years after her mother died. She was still trying to grasp how to deal with the loss and grief that she says “changes over the years, but never goes away.” Word sister, word… I never ended up going to a meetup. I don’t know why. Maybe I wasn’t ready last year. But this year, I think I am.
After my mom died and I was left parentless, I found myself having the hardest time with… well, pretty much everything. I knew I was the kind of person who could face hard stuff head on and move through it like a champ, but this was different. I now was faced with daily life decisions, and no one really to ask, “what happens when I…” and no one to really truly worry about me anymore. I mean, I have family… but they all have their own lives. My friends are great, but they too have their own lives. The unconditional love that is missing in my life from my parents runs deep.
Last year I found a grief group. Followed a sign after walking out of a Starbucks that said “got grief?” I asked myself… well… yeah.. I do. I had a grief counselor that was assigned to my “case” via UPenn Hospice (the program my mom was in at the end). She was a great listener… but really didn’t give a lot of feedback. This slowed my process down and I knew I needed something else.
I walked in one evening to the Grief Group – it was at a church. I had a feeling it would be religious but I had no idea how much. It ended up being super religious. Like, super Catholic. Like, if they had capes they would have branded me one. Being gay, this made things challening, but I was willing to pretend I wasn’t gay just so I could get support from somewhere.
I am spiritual. My dad was Jewish, my mom Catholic. They chose to raise me Catholic, although I just wanted to believe in whatever I wanted to believe in. I support whatever people want to be, celebrate, do, have, feel, so long as they aren’t negative towards what I believe it – it’s all about balance.
We got books and followed along with a video each week about how to deal with grief. I thought this was very helpful, considering this was the only “class” I had in learning how to deal with the feeling. Why don’t we get taught in school how to deal with feelings? I mean, everyone has them. A lot of them. Why not teach how to deal with them like other countries have been for hundreds of years?
I ended up leaving the group before the whole 12 week thing was over. It was because week after week they asked me to join their church and I politely declined. After a few weeks, I tried to connect the dots and “come out” to them as someone who was just mainly spiritual by saying I was a Universal Unitarian. I mean, I’d been to the Princeton UU Church… so perhaps they could stop pestering me about it?
One night, the leader wasn’t there and a group member took over for her. He looked me deep in to my eyes and asked me, “why don’t you go to church?” I was like, “because I don’t want to”. I’m thinking to myself that I just don’t want to go to YOUR church, and I’ll go to church if I want to but stop asking me, man. Seriously.
I stopped going to grief group. And started feeling alone again… I thought about a woman, Melinda Gallo, from the group who’s 16 year old daughter, Liscia “Lissie” Ball died. The daughter was an artist and as healing, the mother tried to sell her art and raise money for a scholarship fund. As her mother’s only daughter, she was devastated by the death. I thought to myself, why not express myself through art as a healing?
When you loose someone important to you, days, weeks, months go by. There’s always a holiday or a memory somewhere and it will usually catch you off guard. Next week is mother’s day. So what am I doing? I’m going to the NJ Motherless Daughters Butterfly Release. We will wear either something of our mothers or our mother’s favorite color and release a butterfly back into the wild in celebration of her life.
What are YOU doing for mothers day to celebrate your mother?